The long, open roads of North Dakota may be peaceful, but they are also risky. The state ranks significantly higher than the U.S. average in the rate of driver fatalities per distance traveled despite active enforcement of state traffic laws. The state takes car insurance seriously, too, so read on to learn more about what you need.
North Dakota Vehicle Insurance Requirements
North Dakota is tailor-made for driving. "We're a really rural state and spread out," says Amy Olson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. "Nobody lives without a car. People might commute 30 miles or more per day."
North Dakota is a no-fault driving state, which means that your insurance company will pay up no matter who caused the accident. Car insurance is required, and most drivers follow the rules. According to the Insurance Information Institute, only about six percent of North Dakota drivers lack the minimum coverage, a rate significantly below the national average.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in North Dakota?
Anyone who wants to register a vehicle for road use in North Dakota must carry at least the minimum auto insurance required by the state or post a hefty bond (see Alternatives to Insurance, below).
Proof of Insurance
North Dakota law requires you to provide proof of insurance when you renew a vehicle registration. You will also have to show such proof after an accident or if a law enforcement officer asks for it.
You can also present electronic proof of insurance, such as a copy stored on a smart phone, instead of a card.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
The minimum amounts required for liability are:
- $25,000 per person for injury
- $50,000 injuries involving two or more people
- $25,000 for property damage
The minimum coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is:
- $25,000 per person for injury
- $50,000 for total injury of all passengers
The minimum no-fault coverage is:
$30,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)
Alternatives to Insurance in North Dakota
North Dakota drivers can register a vehicle with an $85,000 secured bond rather than buying auto insurance. A photocopy of the bond must be available to show any police officer who asks for proof of financial responsibility.
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in North Dakota?
If you're caught driving without insurance, you could face the following consequences:
- Minimum fines of $150
- Suspension of your driver's license
- 14 points on the driver's record
- Possible court order to file an SR-22 form from the insurance company with the State Driver's License Division.
"Residents are supposed to let the DMV know if their insurance cancels for any reason," Olson says. "If they don't, insurance companies licensed to do business here have to let the DMV know. The DMV will cancel your registration on the car if they get notice."
Drivers who want to reinstate their license must provide proof of insurance. Fees can be paid online.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
Buying the right amount of car insurance depends on your vehicle make, mileage and use. No matter what you drive, there's a good chance that the minimum insurance required by law won't fully protect you in an accident. Insurers and consumer groups recommend you get liability coverage of $100,000 per injury or death and $300,000 per accident, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
North Dakota Lack Vehicle Insurance? 5.9% National Average: 12.6 %
Here are some other common types of coverage you may want to consider:
- Collision - pays for damages to a car after a traffic accident
- Comprehensive - helps cover non-accident related incidents, such as vandalism
- Medical expenses - helps pay medical bills after an accident
Teen Drivers in North Dakota
Have a teen driver? You've probably already seen your insurance rates go up. Research shows teens are more likely to be in car crashes, hence the higher rates. You help lower the premium by increasing your deductible.
Since research shows teens are more likely to be in car crashes, your rates will go up. "Young drivers can help keep insurance costs down by taking driver's education; completing an approved defensive driving course, such as Alive at 25; keeping their grades up; and keeping their driving record clean," according to a pamphlet distributed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
North Dakota Car Insurance Premiums: The Difference a Teen Makes
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,550 increase This is a difference of 107%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
Do North Dakota Teens Get a Discount?
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$368 saved
Compare Auto Insurance Premiums from North Dakota Insurers
Policy costs vary greatly, so shop around. Here's the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in North Dakota:
|National Farmers Union P&C||$1,568||$2,978||$7,560|
North Dakota Premiums: The Difference a Car Makes
The make and model of the car you choose for your teen can have a profound impact on your annual premium.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in North Dakota
Full-time college students from out of state do not need to obtain a North Dakota license or register their vehicles in the state. If you're a North Dakota resident and enroll in an out-of-state school, let your insurance company know if you're planning to drive in the other state for more than 30 days a year.
Do College Students Have Lower Premiums in ND?
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$752 decrease This is a decrease of 23%.
Annual Rates for North Dakota Insurance Providers
Each year, review your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in North Dakota.
|National Farmers Union P&C||$1,360||$2,652||$6,652|
Distance Discount: Savings for North Dakota College Students
You may see a slight savings on your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $2,966 at home
- $2,562 at school
- $404 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $2,489 at home
- $2,239 at school
- $250 in savings
College Students in North Dakota: Mustangs vs. Minivans
Driving a minivan will cost less than if your college student drives a sports car, which are linked to speeding.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$3,462
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,040
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in North Dakota
The North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs maintains an online resource available to all military vets, including discounts on car insurance. Military members from North Dakota or stationed in the Peace Garden State are also eligible for a price break on vehicle insurance. Because policies change, it's best to contact several insurance carriers for quotes to compare.
If you're in the military assigned to North Dakota — which has about 7,300 active-duty military personnel living in the state and about 57,000 veterans — to register a vehicle you must complete the DMV forms, and an out-of-state vehicle title bearing your name must be submitted with the application. Renewals can be completed online, but new registrations require a trip to your local North Dakota DMV. North Dakota also offers a variety of special license plates commemorating veterans for service and awards.
North Dakota Service Members:
How Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium
Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to insurance researchers. Our research showed, however, that an older model SUV affects your premium less than a recent model sports car.
Military Drivers: Premium Ranges Differ by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age Savings for North Dakota
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to North Dakota Military Personnel
When you're looking for the best auto insurance, it pays to shop around. Check out the average annual rates you can get in North Dakota.
Seniors in North Dakota
North Dakota law requires insurers to give discounts for drivers 55 and older who pass a safety course. Discounts vary by insurance carrier, but the average discount is 10 percent. Other discounts that older drivers might qualify for include multi-vehicle coverage and low-mileage driving.
Undocumented Workers in North Dakota
Undocumented immigrants in North Dakota generally can't get a driver's license, a prerequisite for car insurance. The only exceptions are young immigrants approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Applicants under the Act must have arrived in the United States before age 16, lived in the country at least five years and not be older than 31. They must also have a valid work authorization.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are rolling out across the Rough Rider state, following the state legislature's recent approval of the service. Ridesharing companies must cover insurance on their contracted drivers from the time a driver activates the service app on a phone, even if the driver doesn't have a fare, until passengers exit the vehicle.
If you're a ridesharing driver, check with your insurance company to make sure you are fully covered when working. Some ridesharing companies don't pay for collision insurance, for example, and personal auto policies typically don't cover "driving for hire."
See our MoneyGeek guidebook on ridesharing and auto insurance for more on how to protect yourself as a passenger.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in North Dakota
Immediately after an accident, the North Dakota Department of Insurance advises all involved drivers to:
- Call the police. A report must be filed if there is injury, death or property damage.
- Exchange insurance information with all drivers. If possible, get contact information for witnesses and take pictures at the scene.
- Notify your insurance agent or company. Under North Dakota law, the driver's no-fault coverage is primary, regardless of who is at fault.
Driver Safety: How Does North Dakota Rank?
The rate of fatal crashes in North Dakota is much higher than the U.S. average, as are traffic deaths related to drunk driving, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. "We usually see right around 50 percent of the fatal crashes are alcohol-related," Olson says. "It's lingered around that number for decades."
North Dakota Driver Safety Ranking
The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.
How did we create the safety rankings?
We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).
|Driver Safety Profile||Number of Fatalities||Fatality Rate
The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.
Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.
|Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities||62||6.15||49th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||66||6.53||48th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||3||0.30||19th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||80||7.92||51st|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||148||14.65||45th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
North Dakota: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Although North Dakota actively promotes safety among teen drivers and has banned cell phone use among teens, it has still received a "red light" for "danger" as a driving safety ranking from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Among the laws the safety group urges North Dakota to implement: enforcement of seat belt laws, an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, a mandatory ignition interlock law for DUIs, a booster seat law through age 7 and raising the minimum age for a learner's permit to 16.The state's laws for motorcyclists are optimal, however, since they require motorcyclists of all ages to wear helmets. In fact, North Dakota had only two deaths in 2013 involving motorcyclists without helmets, according to NHTSA.
|Mandatory seat belts||Driver and all riders must wear seat belts.|
|Child passenger safety||Children 7 and under must ride in approved car seat.|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||Legal limit for DUI is 0.08 (0.02 for drivers under 21). License suspension and fines of $500-5,000 based on number of convictions; possible jail time. For a second conviction, the driver will receive 10 days of jail time; further penalties for multiple convictions.|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Not required.|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Ban on texting and driving. Drivers under 18 may not talk on cell phone.|
|Protections for young drivers||Nighttime restrictions on driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Required only for riders under 18.|
|Bicycle helmet law||No state helmet law.|
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, 2016
Car Insurance Resources for North Dakota Residents
Driver education, training classes and safety information.
A rich resource for teens and their parents, including testimonials from teens, on driving in North Dakota.
Outlines the minimum required insurance, consumer resources on shopping for car insurance and forms.
State crash statistics, safety laws and information for teen drivers.
A report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, public health and insurance groups, this yearly profile rates North Dakota on its road safety.